Los Angeles Clippers Climb in NBA Finals odds Following James Harden Trade

Grant Mitchell
Grant Mitchell
NBA Picks and Best Bets


  • Harden demanded a trade from the Sixers after he didn’t receive the deal he wanted
  • The Clippers sent a bevy of players and picks to the Sixers in return for Harden and P.J. Tucker
  • Most sportsbooks have the Clippers in the top five for NBA Finals odds following the trade

Online sportsbooks have named the Los Angeles Clippers as one of the NBA title favorites following a Tuesday trade for 2018 MVP and 10x All-Star James Harden.

Harden, 34, averaged 21 points, 10.7 rebounds (first in the league), and 6.1 rebounds in 58 games with the Philadelphia 76ers last year. He and veteran forward P.J. Tucker were shipped to LA in exchange for Marcus Morris, Robert Covington, Nicolas Batum, KJ Martin, 2026 and 2028 first-round picks, two second-round picks, and a pick swap.

The Clippers are now tied with the Los Angeles Lakers and Golden State Warriors at +700 (the third-best odds) to win the Western Conference at DraftKings sportsbook.

Harden on the move 

Harden first showed up in Philly in a package that sent wantaway star Ben Simmons to Brooklyn and saw him leave behind Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. He and the Sixers lost in the second round of the playoffs both years he was there, and both times his postseason numbers fell below his regular-season standard.

In the 2021-22 playoffs he averaged 18.6 points, 8.6 assists, and 5.7 rebounds on 40.5% field goal shooting. In the most recent postseason, he averaged 20.3 points, 8.3 assists, and 6.2 rebounds on 39.3% shooting.

Harden declined his player option and agreed to take a reduced salary prior to last season to help his team contend for a title. Although his postseason run left a sour taste in most Philly fans’ mouths, he did help lead two second-round wins against the Boston Celtics, one without MVP Joel Embiid, in which he scored 40-plus points. The Sixers ultimately fell in seven games to their rivals.

Harden appeared to be en route to signing a contract with the Houston Rockets in free agency but shockingly chose to pick up his option and stay in Philly. However, he felt the front office betrayed him by refusing to offer the lucrative long-term offer he expected after sacrificing part of his potential salary the year before and demanded a trade.

Talks with teams around the league were cold for a while. The Clippers initially entered and then backed out of talks after refusing to include Terance Mann in any potential deal but were ultimately able to agree on a package.

The Clippers were +2000 to win the NBA title on opening night at BetMGM. They are now +1300 following the trade.

DraftKings had the Clippers at about +2100 on opening night, and they’re now +1200.

The jury’s still out… for now

Harden, who is from LA, figures to become the team’s new starting shooting guard starting alongside Russell Westbrook, Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, and Ivica Zubac.

There’s no shortage of big-name players in the Clippers’ starting five, but there are a bevy of concerns. The first and foremost of those is availability—Harden, George, and Leonard missed a combined 80 games last season and are all fighting the stigma of being older, injury-prone players.

Harden has also teamed with Westbrook twice previously, and neither situation had a storybook ending.

Their first time together was with the Oklahoma City Thunder when a young Harden sought a starting role and greener pastures elsewhere. The second was with the Houston Rockets after Harden implored the team to trade for Russ, but the pair failed to make it out of the second round of the playoffs and Russ was traded that offseason.

Harden, Westbrook, George, and Leonard are all free agents in the summer as well. That means they’re walking a tightrope and need to win now, or else they could be in real danger moving forward.

The Clippers’ +1200 NBA Finals betting odds at DraftKings are tied for the fifth-best on the board. Only the Boston Celtics (+390), Milwaukee Bucks (+400), Denver Nuggets (+500), and Phoenix Suns (+700) are better.

Grant is a sports and sports betting journalist who prides himself in his up-to-the-minute reporting on the latest events in the industry. A member of Virginia Tech’s 2021 graduating class, he has quickly put together an impressive portfolio since moving to the professional world full-time. Grant’s favorite sports to cover are basketball and both types of football (American and soccer), and he is pushing written, audio, and video content. He has been employed by companies as highly regarded as Forbes and continues on a great trajectory in the industry. When he’s not on the clock, you can find Grant at the gym, looking for adventures, or hanging out with his family.